Long Time, No Blog

You guys!
(Side note – the word “guys” looks really funny when you stare at it for long time. I started typing “y’all” but felt weird since my family in Ohio thinks I’m just trying to be cute when I say it. But really it’s just a part of assimilating to life in the South after seven years. I can’t help it! So, “you guys” or “y’all”…whichever you prefer…)
Hello again! Long time, no blog, huh? 
While I’ve loved this teeny tiny little space on the internet called Counting My Cupcakes for the past 3+ years, letting it go and spending more quality time in the real world has been wonderful. I’ve said it a million times before, so I won’t elaborate on it again, but obviously I’ve let CMC take the backseat in my life. 
On Saturday, Hannah and I did Body Pump together, followed by a breakfast date at our go-to spot, Metto Coffee & Tea. She mentioned how she’s determined to finish writing a blog post about a medical mission trip she took recently, which reminded me how I’ve been wanting to check into my own blog as well. It’s been quite awhile and I (semi-jokingly) told Hannah I don’t want the first post people to see when they visit the site to forever be the one about Christian persecution. While it is such an important issue to pray about, I think something a little lighter-hearted up front and center when someone visits this site better portrays what this space is all about. 
In the time that’s past since my last post, Greg and I visited my oldest brother Ryan in D.C. (my mom and step dad were visiting as well so it was a “kill two birds with one stone” kind of trip). We ate lunch and homemade pop-tarts from Ted’s Bulletin, as seen above. 
Highlights include a tour inside the White House, strolling through Arlington Cemetery, and my new favorite attraction: the Newseum. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a museum all about the media and how some of history’s biggest stories have been told through the news. There are several videos and other multimedia components that sucked me in. The best part was probably the teleprompter station where I got to hold a microphone and be filmed reading a weather forecast off of the prompter. I was…awful. But! It was super entertaining, especially for Greg who stood there and laughed at me the whole time. 
Meteorologist Greg and News Anchor Brittany at your service!

In other news (no pun intended), after pinning this recipe months ago, I finally made Dorothy’s Small Batch Quick Cinnamon Rolls. Best. ever. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making homemade cinnamon rolls, but these were SO EASY. And more importantly, TO DIE FOR. I made them for Greg and I one weekend, fell in love, then made another batch in D.C. to enjoy with my family. 
My last update for today is about none other than the Zo Monster. She turned 2 years old! on September 11th. We had a birthday celebration for a co-worker the day before, so I brought the birthday hat home just for Zoey. She hated it, but I managed to get a few quick pictures before letting her have revenge and destroy it. 
I don’t know when I’ll be back here again, but feel free to connect on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Happy Fall!!!!
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Weekend in Orlando

ORLANDO.
Last weekend Greg and I took a road trip to Orlando to visit my sister Brooke and our grandparents. The six hour drive is short enough to make for an easy weekend trip, but long enough that we don’t get to do it nearly enough. Brooke, my “sista hood of the traveling pants,” is my best friend and we always make the most of our time together. 
We started the weekend off on the right foot by taking a group trip to the gym. Brooke shook her booty off in Zumba, something I’ve tried and failed at before, so I hit the treadmill. As boring as treadmills can be sometimes, being in a new environment automatically makes the time fly by more quickly for me. Even if I am just staring out a window.

The rest of the days were spent lounging by the pool, enjoying my grandma’s delicious meals, and visiting SeaWorld. We decided to be adventurous at the Shamu show and sat in the Soak Zone. Soaked just about sums it up!

Our nights consisted of many-a-margarita from our favorite place, Agave Azul. Brooke has become a regular there, probably their favorite customer I would guess, so we always get the hook-up from the bartenders. 

We also grabbed a glass of wine and some flatbreads from Eola Wine Company in Winter Park one night. It was my first time in Winter Park and I loved it. It’s a cute area with lots of shops and restaurants that I would love to try in the future.

As always, the weekend went by a little too fast, but we had a great mini-vacation. Now I’m looking forward to another long weekend ahead, staying in town this time, with the 4th of July on Friday. Fireworksss!
Thank you Brooke, GG and Paw Paw for the hospitality! xoxo
What was the highlight of your weekend?

Our Trip to Breckenridge in Photos

Besides progressively getting sick on the way to Breckenridge, then fighting the illness on and off for the entire five day trip, we had a great time. I toughed it out as much as possible to make the most of my first time in the mountains of Colorado. I couldn’t eat as much of the food as I would have liked with an upset stomach, but in the long run at least it saved us a little money. Always look on the bright side!

We took a snow mobile tour, skied, drank a lot of hot chocolate, ran out of breath at an insanely fast rate from doing the simplest things, cuddled by the fire, dug our rental car out of 30 inches of snow, walked around the cute little town, and took in the gorgeous views of a winter wonderland.

 

Holiday Travel Snacks

With the holidays upon us, I know I’m not the only one with travel plans. I’ll be driving everywhere this year, as opposed to flying. The most important part of a road trip, besides gas in the car, is an assortment of SNACKS! I suppose these are all great for airplane travel too (just make sure to buy the liquids after you get through security, but you already know that).

Here are my favorites.

Peanut Butter Puffins
I discovered Puffins a few years ago while babysitting for a family who always kept them stocked in the pantry. I don’t eat cereal often, but when I saw these a couple of months ago on sale at Target, I figured I’d switch up my morning routine with something new. They have original and peanut butter. The PB is divine. Perfectly crunchy and if you ask me, best eaten dry by the handful – no milk required!

I love scooping a cup into a plastic baggy to take on the go.

Clif Bars
Oh look! More peanut butter. I am usually not fond of protein or nutrition bars like this, mostly because I’d rather consume 200-400 calories differently. I just have never found a bar that is really “worth it.” I still have to be in the right mood, but when I am, Clif Bars are my go-to bar. I have only tried a few flavors, but the Crunchy Peanut Butter has been my favorite.

Fresh fruit like apples and bananas
Light, healthy and guilt-free. Need I say more?

Frosted Animal Cookies
Okay, these are going to be the death of me. I have such a love-hate relationship with this giant bear jug. Another Target gem, I could eat these things forever. They are dangerously addicting. There is no such thing as “just one” with these. Portion control is key and road trips allow you to practice that control. By only packing a small handful in a ziplock bag, when they’re gone, they’re gone. No sneaking back to the pantry for more when you are hundreds of miles away speeding down the highway.

Bottled Water
Stay hydrated! Water is my best friend. So are bathroom breaks.

Coffee.
Gas station coffee is nice and cheap (the gas station by my house sells any size cup for just 60 cents!). But it’s also nice to treat yourself to something special on the road with Starbucks.

Why, yes. I found the most tempting picture I could 😉 I never get whipped cream on my lattes, but when the barista accidentally put it on my peppermint mocha this weekend, I was not about to complain. It didn’t quite look like that picture though. Sigh.

Sugar Free Red Bull.
When it’s the middle of the night and coffee doesn’t sound good, I resort to Sugar Free Red Bull. I know it’s not good for me, but desperate times call for desperate measures. It does the trick, no denying that.

There you have it.

What are your road trip or airline must-haves?

Blogger Chain Mail Survey

Happy, happy almost Friday! This Friday deserves two “happys” doesn’t it? It’s been a tough week.

You know, I was thinking…Do I ask too many rhetorical questions in this here blog space o’ mine?

Whoops, there I go again with the questions.

Let’s just get right into this. Christina tagged me in this fun little survey and I’m happy to oblige to my tagged duties. Please share your answer to one or two of these questions in the comments below!

Favorite flower: Until my wedding this past May, I wouldn’t have had an answer to this. I am not very knowledgeable about plants in general. After some Pinterest searches during my wedding planning days, I discovered every bouquet I was drawn to had peonies. They quickly became my favorite flower.

Obsession.

Most/least organized space in your home: This changes daily. One day I’ll go crazy cleaning dishes and putting them all away, only to let dirty dishes pile up for the next three days straight. One day I’ll go wild doing four loads of laundry, but let the clean piles of clothes sit on my bedroom floor for a week.

My mother would not be proud.

What book have you read recently that really moved you: The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, along with the next two books in the series – Miles to Go and The Road to Grace. There is even a forth (and maybe fifth???) book in the series, but I haven’t been able to keep up recently.

The books are about a once very successful guy whose wife dies and shortly after loses his entire business. He feels compelled to walk from Seattle to Miami. His thoughts and conversations with others along the way are so moving. I don’t read a lot, but these books sucked me in and had me emotionally connected to the characters. He contemplates his purpose in life and has some serious thought-provoking conversations with others addressing faith and God.





What dish are you most looking forward to at Thanksgiving dinner: Stuffing! Sweet potatoes! Corn pudding!

PUMPKIN PIE! APPLE PIE! COCONUT CAKE! MORE PUMPKIN PIE!!!!!!!!!!!!

How is Thanksgiving in less than two weeks? I’m not complaining, but…HOW?!?

How do you take your coffee: This varies a bit, but my perfect cup of coffee has a dash of cream and one or two packets of Splenda, depending on how big this said cup of coffee is.


What do you miss most about high school: Ohhhhh the memories. I actually really enjoyed high school. I have a lot of fond memories, but mostly I miss my friends, going to my brother’s basketball games, dressing up in ridiculous outfits for swim meets, living with my family and summer break. Oh, and eating whatever the heck I wanted.


Most memorable concert: I am honestly not really into concerts most of the time, just not my cup of tea. But Greg got me tickets to Rascal Flatts for my birthday this past year. The concert was on Valentine’s Day and we really enjoyed it. Yes, WE, Greg included. Spice Girls, NSync and Nick Lachey (during his short-lived solo career) were pretty awesome too.


How do you unwind before bed: Nothing exciting here. I usually have some dark chocolate or fro yo while I watch TV to end my day on a high note. On a weeknight, I’ll head up to bed around 10pm, spend a few minutes looking at Instagram then nighty night I go!


Dots or stripes: Stripes! But only with loose, flowy tops, otherwise they make feel wiiiiide. I didn’t realize it was happening at the time, but somehow over the past several months I have bought lots and lots of stripes. I have tried to make a conscious effort to look for different patterns these days to switch it up, but most of my favorite tops in my closest right now are striped ones.


Favorite U.S. and international cities: Favorites here in the States are Charleston and Paia (a small town on Maui).


I haven’t been out of the country much, so I don’t have many options when it comes to my favorite international city. Therefore, even though it’s not a city, St. Kitts has been the most amazing country I’ve been to. No matter where else I have the privilege of going (hopefully Italy!), St. Kitts will always have a special place in my heart, because that’s where Greg and I got engaged.


Now, I’m tagging Diane, Emily, Nadine, and Julie!

A NYC Christmas – In Pictures

I’m baaaaaaack.
Did you miss me? I hope you all had a great Christmas. I sure did, but I missed being able to keep up with my writing. I am now home in Columbus for the next few days and looking forward to getting back on track and spending time with my family. It is GREAT to be home. 
But boy do I have a lot of catching up to do! Since I could go on and on for hours about all of my experiences from the trip to NYC, I thought some pictures might be the best way to share everything. After all, pictures are worth 1,000 words. And let’s be honest, the majority of the pictures I took were not of me and Greg or famous sights, but instead the food! So today we are just going to focus on those important pictures 🙂
Ok, now we can take quick break. What you see above are red velvet waffles. And they were one of the highlights of my trip. I will go into more detail about these another day, but I couldn’t leave them out of this post. 
Moving right along….

I think I had the opportunity to try most, if not all, of authentic New York-style foods…and much, much more. It was all pretty good, but I am glad to be back in a town with reasonable restaurant food prices. It was getting a liiiiittle ridiculous. The best deal we had were $5 margs during happy hour at a mexican restaurant. I was thrilled about that one. 
Before I go, I have to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to Greg’s parents who took us on this trip. I got to see/do so much and enjoyed all of it. I am so grateful to be included in their family vacation and for them taking care of me and treating me like one of their own. I can’t say thank you enough!
Talk to you all tomorrow!
And P.S. – If you didn’t know already, I have created a Facebook page for the blog. You can “Like” the page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Counting-My-Cupcakes-Blog/268429909871376
Thanks!

Charlotte’s Energy Cafe

I spent this past weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have driven through Charlotte a zillion times, but have only actually been to the city once and it was only for an hour or so. I was looking forward to the entire weekend there.

The best part about visiting a new city for me is discovering the food!! Greg even helped me with this by looking up some places to eat. I was extra surprised when he named a place called Energy Cafe. Sounds like my kind of place (maybe my food habits are rubbing off on him after all). Not to mention it has a 100% rating on Urbanspoon. I had never seen that before.

Energy Cafe on Urbanspoon

When we got to the cafe, it was dead. The only thing keeping it alive were the bright lights and vivid colors on the walls. Just standing inside the place will energize you, no need for the food. Wait, who am I kidding? Always a need for good food.

It doesn’t necessarily look great when a restaurant doesn’t have any customers inside, granted it was in between normal meal times (2:30pm) and located in the middle of the business district. So the local workers had already come and gone during their lunch break, leaving the restaurant free to be enjoyed by Greg and me.

All of the ingredients were colorful and fresh. There were plenty of options between salads, wraps, sandwiches, snacks and even smoothies.

I had the Signature Salad- bed of greens topped with grilled chicken, apples, mandarin oranges and walnuts. Plus sliced red onion per my needy request 🙂 This all sounds great, but the selling factor of this salad for me though was the raspberry vinaigrette dressing. It never gets old. Any menu item listing raspberry vinaigrette as an ingredient automatically catches my eye. 
The box the salad came in looked small and shallow from the outside. I was worried my order wouldn’t be enough to satisfy my empty stomach from the car ride into the city. I was wrong. Looks can be deceiving and that is definitely true in this case. The salad was more than enough and the variety of toppings and flavors did not leave me unsatisfied (as can sometimes be the case when I order salads). 
Greg got the Southwestern Turkey Wrap- turkey, black beans, corn, guacamole, red peppers, tomato, mixed greens, cheese and a chipotle ranch dressing in a whole wheat wrap. As if THAT wasn’t good enough, they grill it for you to heat it up and add those beautiful grill marks on top.
I was jealous. But I have been working on not stealing bites of Greg’s food when mine is perfectly fine. So I let him have it all to himself.
When we finished our meals, I saw the most exciting sign I have ever seen. 
WHAT!?! How kind of them! 
Then I went to get a bowl to eat my free yogurt out of…but there were no bowls. Or cups. I don’t even know what you call these:
But you can be sure Greg and I took advantage of the tiny container and filled it with as much cookies and cream frozen yogurt as we possibly could. 
We went to a couple of other restaurants in Charlotte, but nothing spectacular. An Italian restaurant here, a sports bar there. Those were good, but Energy Cafe is definitely somewhere I would go to again. It is a great place for a light lunch. Even if you only get a bite of frozen yogurt with your meal, it’s worth it.